End of year decisions to make on expiring tax incentives

December 13, 2011

As 2011 rapidly comes to a close, so, too, do many of the small business tax breaks that provided an incentive for entrepreneurs to grow and expand.

Several key tax incentives, including one covering the purchase of office equipment and computers, will expire or be dramatically reduced at the end of this year.

If you act fast, you can still capitalize on these breaks.

Section 179

This deduction relates to the acquisition of equipment and certain software and allows businesses to write off depreciation expenses initially rather than over time. Theoretically this meant fewer taxes, and more income to invest back into the business. Things like office equipment, computers and machinery could be purchased at a net discount because of the deduction. In 2011, the deduction limit is $500,000. However, in 2012 it will be reduced to $125,000 and in 2013 it drops even further to $25,000.

If your business has some cash to spend and you have been considering making an investment in equipment and technology, it may be wise to pull the trigger before the year ends in order to be able to realize these savings.

Bonus depreciation

This deduction is also for small businesses that purchase equipment. For qualified assets, you can deduct 100 percent of depreciation up front in 2011, for up to $2 million (total, including that which was deducted via Section 179). This also drops significantly in 2012, to 50 percent.

Generally, depreciation is deducted over many years so these breaks provided an immediate tax savings for small businesses looking to expand. Considering the economy is still in a fairly fragile state, the reduction in these incentives may have a substantial impact on the recovery.

Year -end tax planning

Just because these deductions are going to be reduced doesn’t mean you should go on a shopping spree for new equipment and such.

Measure what the ultimate impact will be of either making the purchase now, or waiting until next year as the savings may not be as significant as you’d imagine. Not to mention, the equipment must be operational by the end of the year, not just on order.

It is important to seek professional advice whenever considering such a decision in order to ensure that it’s the right one to benefit your business and you’re able to maximize your savings.

Scott Berger, CPA, is a tax principal at accounting firm Kaufman, Rossin & Co. in Boca Raton, Fla.

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